British Comic Award-winning artist Tim Bird’s exploration of the interconnections between location, time and memory have ensured his work – from short minicomics like Asleep in the Back through to his longer-form publications like The Great North Wood from Avery Hill Publishing – has become widely recognised as some of the strongest and most affecting psychogeographical practice the medium has produced.
Midwinter (1982-1998) is his newest zine offering, a short graphic narrative that sits somewhere between sequential art and comics. Its premise is a simple one. It follows the winter solstice on December 21st through the time period of 1982-1998. Each page depicts the exterior of a suburban-style house or local feature (bus stops, bowling alleys, trains stations and so on) alongside the top 20 music chart for that week.
There are no ostensible characters depicted on each page. Only the stoic, unmoving structures of the buildings that look out at us that, nevertheless, hint at universes of stories contained within their walls, or the wider town environs that touch so many lives across the course of the day. Though there may be no ostensible protagonists the cast of characters here is limited only by print run, readership and our imaginations. The quiet power of Midwinter is that in interacting with its pages we become its cast of players, nostalgically immersing ourselves in the memories its playlists evoke.
As those music tracks take us back to long forgotten dark winter nights, Christmas number ones, and parties and friends from yesteryear, our physical detachment from Midwinter’s pages diminishes and an empathetic connection emerges. Again, it’s that uncanny knack Bird has for reminding us of the pedestrian yet profound things that link us that is the subtle driving force behind this deceptively simple premise. Fleeting yet never ephemeral, Midwinter will delight Bird aficionados and newcomers alike with its subtle but pensive relatability.
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Review by Andy Oliver